As a side tangent, enjoy the pictures of Prince. I've found that he has become quite good at a new sport. I'm sure a lot of you saw "planking" when it was a fad, well, Prince has started "Pillowing". Up top shows one of his usual sleeping positions, where he finds a nice cloth object, rearranges it so it's a nice pillow and he falls asleep.
Now this is the opposite end of the spectrum, where he finds any object that is elevated off the floor that he can fit his head on and uses it as a pillow. I find it hysterical myself, but I'm easily amused ;).
Right, so let's get to the craziness that has been going on around here...
1. Now that my oven is fixed, I have a bunch of things I had been ready to bake that ended up in a holding pattern until I could finally bake again, so during Spring Break I made a HUGE batch of blueberry muffins using the fresh blueberries I'd bought earlier and thrown into the freezer.
I used this recipe from Taste of Home and I have to say that when they say the batter will be thick? They are NOT kidding! It was like scraping bread dough into the muffins cups almost. I had to have my husband help me fold the blueberries into the dough it was so thick. I was scared that the muffins would be too dense and not cook right, but while they did take the maximum amount of time the recipe called for, the muffins came out really tasty! I definitely bookmarked the recipe for use later on. I even found that my blueberry hating daughter liked the muffins, which shocked and thrilled me.
I froze half of the muffins for later use and my husband has been taking them, two at a time, into work with his lunch, so I'm probably going to have to keep my eyes open for more sales on blueberries :).
In other news, I'm completely in love with my USA pans that I bought. I love having truly non-stick pans :).
2. I got a knock at my door a few weeks ago and opened it to find another FEMA inspector. I was kind of worried that we'd done something wrong until he explained that he was just doing quality control on the first inspector we'd had and it was quite normal. I remembered the first inspector saying something to the same effect, so I, once again, walked the new inspector through all of the damage to the house. Surprisingly, this new inspector took a lot more photos and was willing to go to different areas than the first. I noticed he took a lot more in depth photos of the furnace and how it tied into the chimney and even had me walk him out onto our back deck and shoot the damage to the chimney up close.
I got a call last Sunday from FEMA and found out that we actually qualified for more money and it was being processed. My husband and I were thrilled and were hoping for even another hundred bucks as every penny helps right now. I went online the next day to find that FEMA had given us another 900.00! Between this money and the money FEMA gave us before my husband is going to demo the chimney himself and then see if a contractor friend of his that gave us a good quote on the work on the house will come in and help him put in the new chimney and build a fake wood facade around it.
When we signed up for FEMA originally we were also required by the State of Alaska to sign up with the Small Business Association for a low cost loan for necessary repairs to the property. What is nice about the SBA is that being linked to FEMA they also have access to the FEMA reports on the property and the inspection that the state did on the property as well and one morning a SBA loan officer walked me through all of the damages to the property including personal property loss and things. The day after FEMA called and told me we were eligible for more funds, the SBA called and the loan officer I talked to told me that we were approved for a twenty something thousand dollar loan at 2% interest for a 30 year term period of repayment. So, our payment every month on the money we are going to get is 88.00. I think the weight of the world fell off my husband's and my shoulders at that point. Yes, this will result in another payment we have to make every month and money is tight as is, BUT it will be a fixed interest rate loan and more importantly will give us access to enough funds to fix the house right. We can get the gutters replaced, rebuild our retaining wall in the driveway, tear down the outbuildings (and figure out what to do about shed space afterwards), get a new door for the garage, get a new oven and things if needed (the oven still acts funny from time to time, but I'm giving it a while and seeing where the cards fall on that) and we'll have funds to do it. You would not believe how much of a relief that is.
3. A friend of mine gave me some old twin bedding and things. It is definitely a blessing considering bedding is always at a premium around here and the other things were a blessing as well :).
4. I have been working on my organization around here now that Spring is coming. I think I have every cookbook I own out on my living room coffee table and went through and bookmarked all the recipes (breakfast, lunch and dinner) that I would like to try and then I'm hoping to design a nice looking blank menu that I can fill in with one daily menu at a time. This way I can put up the menu on the fridge for what we'll be eating that day (thus no surprises for the family) and I'll have a instruction sheet (basically) on what to make. By putting the menus on separate sheets of paper I can then put them into a binder if I find that we liked something or other for future use. Will it work? Who knows. Many a system has failed for me over the years. But, it is certainly worth a shot.
5. I finally have come to the conclusion, after MANY years of looking at used furniture, that the only way I'm going to have to figure out linen cabinet space on my own. I thought about it a lot and have come to the conclusion that I really do need cabinets with doors (the larder beetle infestation last year really hammered that note home) and I am going to have to buy in as anything at the used stores that will work for my purposes is as expensive (or in some cases more expensive) than just buying new and knowing it'll fit into the hole I need it to fit into.
After searching on Amazon a LOT over the last bit (none of the stores had anything that would suit my purposes, unfortunately), I found this cabinet (no associate link or anything, I'm just sharing), that I am hoping to save up to buy. I don't know when I'll be able to get one with how the budget is and all of the repairs we have to do, but I think it'll look nice, give me some storage space AND most importantly, give me my china cabinet back to use for the purpose for which it was intended. Speaking of that, I think what I'm going to do for now is to just put towels and bedding in Rubbermaid totes and put them stacked up in the hallway and go back to using my china cabinet for dishes and things. Mainly because as a linen cabinet it just doesn't work so well (I'm constantly having to shove my arm around things and into tight spaces to get into the middle section where there isn't a door to get out sheets and things and with the glass shelves I worry about dislodging them and causing a huge collapse/mess).
I would put it on my Amazon Prime card, but Amazon decided that my auto-renewal on my Amazon Prime should go onto my card and so I have more on the card than I was planning on (honestly I spaced that it was renewing this month with everything else that has been going on), so I am going to have my hands full the next few months paying that off.
6. I did purchase one thing on Amazon this month. A new comforter. They had one on the daily deals and it was down to 24.95. Since the ones I've found at the used stores immediately start to fall apart as soon as I get them and wash them (and I'll pay at least 1/2 of the price of the new one I just bought to get them in the first place), I am in desperate need of some queen sized comforters that aren't just dying on me. So, I did put that on my Amazon card this month. It is white, which is not ideal with how quickly Alvah can stain something, but I am hoping to have time in the next few months to make some duvet covers for it and thus save it from his wrath.
7. My vacuum cleaner was making a high pitched whistling sound, which was NOT a good sign. I went online and troubleshot the problem and found that it was probably the fan needing to be replaced. I immediately ordered a new fan assembly (yay for Kirby parts being available through Amazon as our local Kirby store shut down and I'd have to drive into Anchorage and pay out the nose to get the part I needed) from Amazon for 11.00 and some change and got it in last week. My timing, it turns out, could not have been better as I made the mistake of sucking up a pretzel, heard a horrible noise come from the vacuum and immediately smelt something burning. Since I had just cleaned everything I could reach, I knew it was the fan, so I pulled out my parts yesterday, pulled up a tutorial on YouTube (which I am so happy so many self help tutorials are available to help walk you through these things anymore :) and got to work. Two hours later with some new injuries to my hands from jamming things under finger nails that I couldn't see and things (and thanking God my husband had sealing compound in the garage for me to use to help reseal the fan assembly to the vacuum cleaner) and the vacuum cleaner is running as good as new. I'm proud of myself, I'll admit it, as mechanically inclined and me are usually not in the same sentence.
8. Speaking of things breaking our living room TV just out and out died last week. Thank GOD it was after Spring Break as not having a TV with the son home for the week would have been awful. My husband is thinking the power supply on the TV went and is going to see what he can do to repair it, but in the meantime he dug out an old TV we had that doesn't work great, but it DOES work, and set it up in the living room. It'll hopefully live until the husband can fix the other one (it's iffy the way it has been acting as it keeps crashing and things), but at least it's a temporary solution until we can figure out what we need to do next.
9. I got my laundry room deep cleaned this week. Since the earthquake things have been so insanely hectic that I hadn't had a chance to really go over the room and disinfect the floor and things so I did that this week. I want to get the entryway part of the pantry completely cleaned out and mop the floors and deep clean everything to get whatever jelly and things didn't get cleaned up on the initial cleaning job so that bugs aren't going to be a problem now that break up seems to be coming fast, so hopefully I can get to that this week.
10. Grocery shopping was over budget this week. It couldn't be avoided, really. I needed flour as I was nearly out, I had some really good sale prices on meat (and found a bunch of meat 30% off on top of the discounts I had) and I had to replenish the son's food stores as he BLEW through food and things last week. So, I'm hoping to cut the grocery budget this week (it's pay week so we'll see how that goes as it's usually my "stock up" weeks when we get paid) and recoup the budget a bit.
11. We found out that Payless Shoes is going out of business everywhere. Since this was the one store where I could go locally and get decent priced shoes for the kids, we ran up there this week (Alvah's winter boots were also way too small for him, which thank Goodness his teacher caught that as I spaced it with how insane winter was this year), used the shoe sized measuring tool to measure out the kid's feet to see what they would be in adult sizes (especially Alvah as he's really tall for his age) for reference later and we got the son some winter boots, some new gym shoes (which his old ones were also too small for him now) and got the daughter sneakers in the next size up and some dark dress shoes. We spent more than I would have liked, but we got good value for our money for sure and at least I'm a BIT better prepared for the store closing down now. I'm still going to miss being able to get the kids shoes for under 50.00 a pop, though.
12. I had a lot of clothes die on me of late. T-shirts and pajamas, sweatshirts, you name it, just started to disintegrate on me to epic degrees. Now mind you most of those things I have been wearing since high school or college, so I really couldn't complain about them finally giving up the ghost, but it was still depressing. I found that my favorite used store had a certain tag of clothes 50% off this week, so I went in and got a bunch of shirts and a couple of nightgowns and a new robe for myself. Spent more, once again, than I would have liked, but I comforted myself that I walked out with two bags of clothes for the same price that two shirts would have cost me new at another store.
And there you have it folks. The last couple of weeks in a nutshell around here. How about you? How did you do?